Overcoming Adversity – Athletes Learn and Grow from Adversity


What do you do when adversity strikes you? Do you react or do you respond in a way that allows you to learn and grow from that adversity. For a moment I want you to think of yourself as if you were an Eagle. Why an Eagle? Just look at how they handle adversity. They don’t react in a way that could cause more stress, they carefully respond by always flying higher. I mean that literally. God has specially programmed eagles to always go higher. Let me better explain. If a storm is approaching they don’t battle through it, they fly over it. If they are being pestered by another bird, they fly where the other bird can’t breathe. So where am I going with all of this? I believe that life is about levels. As you keep flying higher you become stronger and stronger. If you are an athlete this concept can be used when facing your goal. If your program is structured properly you will continue to achieve whatever goals you set. What you learn how to do is respond rather than react. You can learn how to look at your goals as if you are climbing a mountain. You don’t just race to the top. You learn to climb to certain points and rest and evaluate your progress, making the necessary changes which will allow you to go higher. You may not even know this little known fact, but when they climb Mount Everest they go up and come down levels. This gives their body time to adjust to the altitude. Sometimes this approach is necessary in your athletic and personal life. Which means sometimes we need to back off and evaluate our situation. Maybe get some advice or coaching. This will allow us to get to the next level with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Just like the Eagle who just spreads its wings and flies higher and higher with little effort, while other birds can only battle through the storm. So what we all need to learn are strategies that we can use to achieve the next level.

Let me make some clarification. Like sports, your life needs to be about what makes you happy. Now I don’t mean that in a narcissistic way, but in a way that allows you to utilize your God-given talent and abilities, which all of us have. If you haven’t discovered yours, it’s the thing that makes you sing when you think about it. Whenever you focus on it your enthusiasm goes off the charts. It’s what you want to do when you “grow up”. These are just a number of ways to describe this feeling or gift. It will give you an incredible high. So if you were to focus on getting to what makes you happy you will begin to do the things necessary in your life to prepare to win. This is one of the crucial elements of a properly developed fitness or training plan. Does your plan include the key elements and strategies to prepare you to get to the next level? And are you willing to do them? One of those elements is getting healthy, preparing your body and mind for the journey, goal or battle ahead. As an athlete it will allow you to have fun at what you love to do. We all want to win, but not many of us have the will to prepare to win. That becomes the true test in our lives, at any age. Another way to say it is that we want results but not necessarily the work that is involved. As previously mentioned, “what are you willing to do?”

overcoming-adversity-athletesI happen to work with many individuals whom have great physical challenges to overcome. Many express how they desire to achieve tremendous goals and aspirations. I believe this is an important part of the healing process. Where it begins to unravel for them is when I ask them what they are willing to do to achieve their dream. That “will” to prepare is so much more important. Life isn’t just going to hand your dream over to you. For examples of this look at those who win the lottery or those blessed with great athletic potential that either quickly lose all the money or never try to develop their talent or come close to their potential. Now let’s compare this to someone who has aspirations of becoming an Olympic Champion. They make a decision to achieve the highest level in sport. Then they commit to prepare to win. For many this could mean training 8-12 hours per day, 7 days per week, for 4 years. How many of us would be willing to Fly to that level, even if we had the time and money. Remember there are plenty of examples of individuals who have the God-given talent but never had the will to prepare to win. There are also those who have access to the best coaches, equipment and facilities yet choose not to follow through. This same story could be made for school, careers and relationships. We all want to succeed at something, we want significance, but how far are we willing to go to achieve it.

I believe that a lot of these questions that I propose can be better answered when we as individuals, discover what makes us “Go”. What’s the one thing that when you think about or do will always elevate your energy and enthusiasm. When we find it, we are now closer to what could be our purpose in our life. A very interesting fact is that when I speak to various groups, regardless of age, from High School to well into their 90’s. Whenever I touch someone’s “hot button” their enthusiasm and energy always goes higher. All they are missing is a strategic plan that would allow them to achieve whatever their “it” is. Remember we all have God-given gifts and talent. These will always be with you. What I try to do is find a way for someone to go to that next level with this gift or rediscover and share with others whom are younger or could benefit from your knowledge. Let’s go back for a moment to what I presented on what you are willing to do to prepare to win or succeed. When you finally discover what makes you sing, it becomes much easier to begin putting your strategic plan together.

It is at this point in the journey that I and a lot of individuals make a crucial error. We move too fast. Now don’t get me wrong, moving too fast is better than no movement at all. So let me clarify. We have discovered that in life we can many times achieve a goal much faster by working alone, but if what we truly desire is what really makes us “Go” you will always go much farther towards that dream if you are willing to take others with you. Mentors, Coaches, Trainers and Teammates. The fact is going to the next level will always be an uphill journey, which is good. The reality of going uphill, will make us appreciate the journey. Actually sometimes the journey becomes the dream. And because the journey many times is such a struggle, it will make us develop more than just physical muscle; this struggle makes us stronger in all areas of life. Finally because the journey is truly our dream it will further motivate us with the desire to endure all the failures along the way. What a joy it is to finish such a journey with others. I guess that’s why I’ve always loved stories like Lord of the Rings or Sport Teams that overcome to win. Being surrounded with people who you can help win or can help you will serve you in so many ways. The growth that you will personally achieve will fill an enormous human need and because you can achieve your dream, which I will assume will be your contribution to your community, which will be the next level of fulfillment of who you are. There will be no better feeling than knowing that you have contributed to improving others through your dream.

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About Author

Arnie Fonseca

Arnie Fonseca, Jr has helped thousands of individuals over the past 30 years achieve their goals despite daunting challenges in their lives. He has spoken at both National and International conferences on topics ranging from Strength and Wellness to the treatment of Traumatic Spinal Cord and Brain injuries. See my profile page for more information!

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